Raspberry Pi announces the Pico W, a $6 Wi-Fi-equipped microcontroller

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Raspberry pie introduced a successor to last year’s Pico, a $4 microcontroller based on the company’s own RP2040 chip. The new model is called the Pico W. It’s basically the same hardware, but it adds, as the name suggests, an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio, making it useful for setting up IoT projects. and others. It’s also more expensive than the standard Pico, at $6.

A 50% price jump isn’t trivial (especially if you’re planning on buying a ton), but it’s understandable why the W version costs so much more than the original. Raspberry Pi CEO Eben Upton said The edge Nilay Patel that adding radios to products is very expensive. “Just the radio compliance of a modern Raspberry Pi product is the best part of half a million dollars,” he said. Nor is the $4 Pico going away. If cost is a big factor and you can do without network connectivity, you can always get the cheaper model.

The company claims to have added wireless to the Pico using an Infineon CYW43439 chip. Funnily enough, this chip also supports Bluetooth, but Raspberry Pi says it’s not currently enabled. (Although that hints that he at least plans to enable it in the future.)

Whereas the are accessories available to connect your standard Pico to a network, they were significantly more expensive and bulkier than the Wi-Fi built into the microcontroller itself – plus they used valuable pins that could have been attached to other fun accessories . Pico W is simply built-in and you can even use it as a replacement for a standard Pico-based project if you wish.

The Pico W’s 2.4GHz 802.11n connectivity seems very old-fashioned in the days of Wi-Fi 6E, but it’s worth noting that the Pico W isn’t designed to be an internet-capable desktop computer – it is designed to control other electronic or hardware devices. Now, however, it can do this while sending information back and forth over a network. For example, the standard Pico might allow you to control an array of LEDs with a switch or button. You could still build this with a Pico W, but you would also have the option of controlling the lights from your laptop.

The Pico H comes with built-in pin connectors.
Picture: Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi also announced two other Pico products: the Pico H and the Pico WH. They are identical to the Pico and Pico W, respectively, but they cost a bit more and come with pre-attached pin headers and a debug connector, whereas the basic versions only have regular pins in the form of a stamp. Basically, you’re paying to make it easy to attach things, which will be worth it for some people but not for others. (Personally, I might buy the regular version just to give myself an excuse to practice soldering more.) The H is available today, while the WH will be available in August.

In its press release, Raspberry Pi says people looking to experiment with hardware have flocked to the Pico because shortages of semiconductors make it difficult to find chips. While the company promises it intends to manufacture “tens of millions more Picos”, it’s also been touched: Anyone who’s recently tried to buy its more complex computers, like the Raspberry Pi 4, knows that can be difficult to find in stock. . Currently, however, the Pico, Pico W and Pico H are all available on several sites, such as The Pi Hut and Pimoroni. Adafruit and Cytron have pages for the Pico W and say they will be available to order soon.

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